The fast flowing nature of Phillip Island is a favourite of many riders, often lending itself to close racing while allowing the rider the rare opportunity to be truly aggressive on those 180 two-strokes and 200-plus horsepower four-strokes they attempt to tame each weekend.

With this in mind the set-up of the machines will be targeted towards good acceleration and turning ability, rather than braking stability - a given considering there's only one hard braking area, Honda Corner.

The Island, as it is often referred to, offers a variety of cambers throughout its sweeping layout, both positive and negative. Therefore the key component to success will be the rear suspension unit. It will need to offer a plush enough ride to ensure good predictable traction without pumping through its stroke as the rider tries to drive hard off the side of the tyre, or squatting as the weight transfers onto the rear. The latter would only unload the front of the motorcycle causing it to push wide - affecting exit speed and eventually laptimes. On the other hand a too stiff a rear shock will only lead to the front wheel lofting while the rider powers off each of the slow and medium speed turns.

To achieve all that is needed of the rear shock it must sport a slightly softer spring rate, to aid feel, with a reasonable amount of preload to prevent rear-end squat. As for the damping, it will be dialled in to help balance out the package over some of the finer bumps, located in some of the high-speed sweepers.

The front forks will mimic the rear set-up to ensure an overall balanced geometry. Too hard and the front will become vague in its feedback, and at these high speeds and lean angles this can be detrimental. Too soft and the basic feel will be too loose to be efficient. This has been the basic approach of the YZR-M1 technical team over the past few races, and with the experience gained this could prove quite beneficial at the Island, where rider confidence counts for so much.

As is often the case, when drive is important, some Yamaha riders may opt for a longer swingarm to offer predictability and stability under power, while reducing the likelihood of the bike wheelstanding. It may also provide another opportunity for the Marlboro Yamaha Team to test the latest rear swingarm offering for the YZR-M1.

Power is tuned more towards offering a stronger midrange to top-end with acceleration the key to a fast laptime, especially off the final fast turn where momentum can make the difference between winning and losing. This is where the four-strokes will have the greatest advantage. With this in mind Nakano and Jacque will be thankful that they've come to Australia M1 mounted, as will Abe who makes his four-stroke debut this weekend - the fifth Yamaha rider to do so.

Tyre choice is also crucial here, but also difficult to get right. With the temperamental weather the track temperatures can vary greatly and in turn so can the ideal tyre choice. Tyre technicians also need to take into consideration the long periods that are spent driving hard off the left side of the tyre - which is why the 16.5inch slick is the only choice. The challenge is to offer the grip and longevity on the left side, dealing with the massive heat build up, while also generating heat and grip on the less used right side.


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